The 1978 Bronx Survey

In the Fall of 1978, the Community Development Survey Staff of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission drafted an architectural survey of the whole borough.

The so-called “windshield survey” was carried out by car on a block-by-block basis, on every street in the Borough.

These were dark times for the Bronx, and the report referred to buildings which “are islands in a sea of devastation.”

Overall, the report identified 5 historic districts and 86 potential individual landmarks. Many of them were in the Mott Haven area as well as in City Island, which because of its remoteness and low density had survived urbanization.

The appendix also lists  62 individual structures, three districts, eight blocks of houses, and six scenic areas. Both sets are considered and included here.

The buildings Bronx Survey now

Thirty-eight years later, most of the recommendations had achieved New York City Landmark designation status, but several did not survive the passage of time. Other buildings have been so substantially altered that they’re a shadow of their former selves. Some more appear to be in relatively good shape, but still await landmark status. It won’t be easy.

For example, the First Presbyterian Church of Williamsbridge and Rectory was one of the few unlandmarked to have made it into the LPC’s calendar in 1980. It sat there for decades until it showed up in the LPC Backlog Initiative in 2015. After some consideration, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission decided not to act upon it later that year.

Had it been designated, it’s not a sure-fire way of survival. One such building (PS 31 in the Grand Concourse) was designated only to be later demolished after years of neglect, showing the limits of landmark designation.

Below is a list of what made it into the survey but was lost along the way and what, despite lack of official protection, is still standing. Some, like the Hupfel Brewery, are barely hanging on.

Demolished

Almost, practically gone

Still here, not landmarked

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